Primate rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary


animal protection & environmental sanctuary

A non-profit organisation specialising in Primate rehabilitation and rescue,
based in Kwazulu Natal - South Africa



A day in the life of APES

Each day usually starts out at around 4:30 in summer and 5:30 in winter. Rooibos tea is prepared for the teenagers (I've found that when there are highly strung monkeys this helps to calm them down - as it does with human children with the same problem). The tea is taken out into one of the continually open enclosures and usually there are the very early risers who come out of the bush and partake of the refreshments. Bread is also put out at the same time and the unreleasables are also 'served' their goodies.

Next it's the babies turn, by this time it is nearly six. They get ideal milk and fruit and vegetables that have been prepared before-hand. While they are drinking their milk I clean and disinfect their sleeping quarters.

MinkyIf the wild troop arrived the evening before I have to rush around and get their feeding station sorted out. They are given bread while I prepare their fruit and veg. If lady Minky decided to sleep in her indoor 'flat' she has her tea as well - she then lets herself out to mix with the common lot. (Minky was bought from a street vendor at 7 months old and is completely humanised. She mixes well with the wild troop but has not been able to 'unlearn' her human ways and leads a somewhat 'in between' existence)

I then prepare the food for the troop for the day - the inmates and the wild troop. This consists of the following procedure. The fruit and veg is selected and washed, cut up and divided between the various feeding dishes - immediate meals, lunch and late afternoon meals. Each group then gets their morning meal. The wild ones feed on the one enclosure roof which enables them to have contact with the babies that are still in an enclosure and to get to know the 'new ones', which all helps with later integration. By this time it is 7 and time for me to get ready and leave for work.

Khela takes over when I leave. KhelaHe cleans the enclosures, removes old food and cleans the area with antiseptic spray which also helps keep the flies at bay. Khela also puts out fresh water two or three times a day, cleans and fills the babies 'swimming pool' and cuts fresh branches for the enclosure for the babies and 'lame & lazy'. To clear up a point - the 'lame & lazy' are the unreleasables - monkeys that cannot be let out at all because of their disabilities. Their enclosures border the acre of natural bush and are large enough with sufficient branches, toys, grass and soil so the inmates don't get bored and can forage for grubs and insects if they are capable. Youngsters exploring the bushKhela also keeps an eye on the monkeys who are out of the enclosures - not that he follows them around but remember, they are not yet adults and can easily get into problems. They spend most of their time in the acre of natural bush. One very important issue is that Khela has to watch out in case there are any disasters - fights with the wild ones or injuries. We are very fortunate to have a very caring neighbour, Gloria Stowell and her family, who are always available to cart the injured off to the vet if necessary. Khela then cleans the enclosures again in the mid afternoon.

When Rod and I get back at 5, I take over the monkey duties and by this time they have had their last prepared meals. The babies however are fed every 4 hours with fresh food and milk as well as vitamins with their morning meal. As they get older their milk intake is cut down and eventually stopped all together. It is always a delight when the babies are able to drink by themselves and it does help tremendously with the workload. (During this time when they have 4 meals a day I have to take them to work with me where they also have an enclosure). Security in numbersThe babies have their last milk and 'snacks' of bread or biscuits and are rounded up at around 6 in the evening and closed up in their sleeping quarters which are lined with paper and a bed of towels and blankets. When they are tiny they still need the security and safety of being shielded and they sleep in a bundle, clutching each other for added security. Only when they are about six or seven months can they sleep out on a perch or ledge if they wish to.

By this time all the others are heading for their night roosts. If Minky decides to spend the night indoors she arrives as it gets dark and spends a short time on my lap watching TV and then she is popped into her 'flat' for the night.

Now it's suppertime for the humans of the household.

The resident troop size varies as does the number of babies but our average food consumption is as follows;

Bread 6 loaves a day
Ideal Milk 2 large tins a day (as well as Formula for the infants)
Fruit & veg 120 kg a week of bananas, apples, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, avocados and other seasonal fruit & veg.
Peanuts 20 kg a week or more if available
Seeds 20 kg a week of maize and sunflower seeds, Pumkin/squash seeds

So many people have asked following question,” What do you find to do at APES?

I decided to do an information sheet on what I do every day of the year, with assistance from     Rod when he isn’t doing his own chores and if I don’t have volunteers to assist. We do have the assistance of Vovo he comes to assist when he can and when we are able to afford his salary. Vovo’s main chores are helping with the domestic animals, checking fences, and general maintenance of the enclosures, garden and various other odd jobs I get up at 4.30am in summer as it starts getting light then and go to bed at 9, 30/10pm In  winter as the sun doesn’t rise so early I am up at 5.15am and usually go to bed  the same time as I do in summer. I also get told ‘Oh you must rest you know you are getting on! My reaction to these remarks is usually ‘I am not practicing for the big sleep!”
1) The kettle is switched on the stove to cook the dog food that was prepared the night before.  
2) The dogs are let out as soon as I am dressed, when they come back in doors they get a light meal of food they left the night before.
3) The cats are feed
4) The poultry get their morning grain etc.That was prepared the night before to save time.      
5) If and when we have an addition such as Ferdenande the calf they get their bowl of food and if still on formula they either get their formula in a bottle or bucket depending on their  age.
6) Monkey food is prepared and taken out to them as soon as they arrived   
7) The donkeys and cows are let out into their day paddocks. (This is usually done by Vovo if    he is available.)
 8) If we have infant monkeys at the time we have to prepare their bottle/s they are then fetched from their sleeping quarters and fed their formula and their fruit.
        9) We then have our morning tea/coffee.
10) If Vovo is not available the poultry and livestock are given fresh water, pens are checked    etc.
We then proceed with other chores, Rod to his workshop, either vehicle work or other chores  I then usual have to deal with various computer related chores, washing weather permitting otr even helping out in the workshop if necessary/.

Bearing in mind that Tuesdays and Fridays are “town days” to collect donated vegs and fruit etc also buy the humans their food stuff as well as for any of the animals that require more, Also do any other chores that require doing it is usually a race a round perhaps we might get the chance to down a cup of coffee if we lucky. When we get home the monkey food and other animals have to be feed again the donkeys and cows have to be taken back to their night quarters and fed.  If possible all the donated stuff has to be  sorted out and stored. Then or if it isn’t too hot it can wait until later or the next day but the most important duties are done first the “animals and their needs”
At sunset the geese need to be enclosed in their pens, the monkey dishes are collected and cleaned any left over food is put into the cows/donkeys feed bowl ready for the next day. Enclosures are     checked chickens closed in. The Infant monkeys are brought indoors to have their bottles and food then put to bed in their night quarters
The humans are then catered for washing up is done etc and maybe we can relax! HaHa.
In  between all the household and animal chores there is the computer, phone calls, if any  of the community  needs our help for either themselves their animals or need  us to attend meetings etc Or to deal with their problems in regarding to various governmental departments etc  this all falls into the” extra  work category”  it is part and parcel of what we do here.

Not to mention if the vehicle/s decide to  miss-behave they too need attention, sometimes costing extra money or just brain power and a lot of physical work on Rods part.


 I hope who ever read this enjoys it and have a greater understanding and perhaps sympathy for us?
Why do we do it? Well it is our life. Doing it makes us feel as if we are spending the best days of our lives in family holidays to Greece or in other places famous for biodiversity. Any one who volunteers is a God send, helping  not only us but more important helping us to continue our work not only for the primates and other animals but also the rural people of our area.

Thank you for reading this and think about visiting us better still  VOLUNTEER come and be part of the “mad house’

Dawn and all at APES. 

A day in the life . .

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Apes, 2001         last updated  October 28, 2004           webmaster